1. The drink dates back to 800 AD
Legend has it that a ninth century Ethiopian goat herder, named Kaldi, noticed the effect caffeine had on his goats, who appeared to “dance” after eating the fruit of the Coffea plant. He then made a drink using the fruit and reported it kept him awake all night. Thus, coffee was born. It is native to tropical Africa, specifically Ethiopia, Sudan and Madagascar. However, coffee roasting and drinking, as we know it, probably originated in modern-day Yemen, in southern Arabia, in the 15th century.
2. Coffee beans are really the seeds of the plant
The beans are the pits of the cherry-like berries found on the flowering shrubs, but we call them “beans” because of their resemblance to legumes.
3. There are two main types of coffee beans: Arabica and Robusta
Growers predominantly plant the Arabica species, because it is generally more highly regarded than Robusta coffee. Although less popular, Robusta is slightly more bitter, has less flavor, contains more caffeine, but has better body and crema.
4. What is espresso?
Espresso is a full-flavored, concentrated form of coffee that is served in “shots.” It is made by forcing pressurized, hot water through finely ground coffee beans. Unlike other coffees, espresso has a “crema.” This is the reddish brown froth that forms on top of the coffee as the oils are extracted from the beans. It only happens when coffee is brewed under pressure, and espresso is the result. The crema adds to the rich flavor and alluring aroma of espresso. The crema is the mark of a proper espresso from a quality, perfectly ground coffee.
Crema and espresso’s quick extraction process give an espresso a fuller flavor, longer aftertaste and lower caffeine content than drip coffee.
Deciphering espresso drinks
Coffee drinks usually start with a “Doppio,” a double shot of espresso, the standard in most coffee houses. Add enough water to fill a 6 ounce cup and you have a Caffé Americano. If you make a double shot of espresso in the base of a preheated cup, and top it with steamed milk, garnish with a bit of froth, you have made a Caffé Latte. Latte means milk, so generally the milk flavor is more dominant in this beverage then other espresso-based beverages. A 2:1 ratio of milk to espresso is common.
Café au Lait or Café con Leche
The phrases au lait and con leche mean “with milk” in French and Spanish respectively. These drinks are variations on the Italian Caffé Latte. The milk remains in the same 2:1 ratio. Sugar may be added.
Caffé Mocha is a variant of café latte made with espresso, steamed milk and dark chocolate syrup. It is often topped with whipped cream and additional chocolate syrup.
A cappuccino is usually a single shot of espresso topped with equal parts of steamed and frothed milk, in a ratio of 1:1:1, served in a preheated bowl-shaped cup.
Americans have adapted this recipe, incorporating more steamed and frothed milk, while keeping the espresso the same. The word Cappuccino literally means “hood” or something that covers the head. Therefore Cappuccino means “small capuchin.” The Capuchin friar, Marco d’Aviano, was the inspiration for this beverage. The coffee got its name, not just from the white hood, but also from the reddish brown color of the robes worn by the monks and nuns of the Capuchin order. The reddish brown color of the robes is quite distinctive and differentiates the Capuchins from the Augustinians, Benedictines and Franciscan orders.
A single or double shot of espresso topped with a dollop of heated texturized milk, served in a small cup. Macchiato means “mark” or “stain.” In this case the mark is a dollop of milk on top of the espresso.
5. Only two U.S. states produce coffee
Kona coffee is the United States’ gift to the world. Because coffee traditionally grows best in climates along the equator, Hawaii’s weather is optimal for harvesting beans. California recently got into the coffee game, with dozens of farms churning out pricey premium bags. As of 2016, Brazil was the leading grower of coffee beans, producing one-third of the world’s total.
6. The world’s most expensive coffee can cost more than $600 per pound.
One of the most coveted varieties comes from the feces of an Asian palm civet. The cat-like creature eats fruit, including coffee cherries, but is unable to digest the beans. The excreted seeds produce a smooth, less acidic brew called kopi luwaka.
Decaffeination of coffee is done while the seeds are still green. Many methods can remove caffeine from coffee, but all involve either soaking the green seed in hot water, or steaming them and using a solvent to dissolve the caffeine-containing oils. Decaffeination is done by a processing company who then sells the extracted caffeine to pharmaceutical companies.
8. You can overdose on coffee
But do not worry. You would need to drink about 30 cups in a short time to get close to a lethal dose of caffeine.
9. Finland is home to coffee lovers
The average adult Finn goes through 27.5 pounds of coffee each year. Compare that to a measly 11 pounds for each American.
10. Coffee drinkers tend to live longer, healthier lives
The National Institutes of Health found that higher coffee consumption was associated with lower risk of death, and those who drank any coffee lived longer than those who did not. A 2014 meta-analysis (combining data from several studies), found that coffee consumption was inversely associated with all-cause mortality, but not with cancer mortality. Relating to cardiovascular disease, a 2012 meta-analysis concluded people who drank moderate amounts of coffee had a lower rate of heart failure. It also found that cardiovascular disease, such as coronary artery disease and stroke, is less likely in people who drank three to five cups of regular coffee. Meta-analyses have consistently found that long-term coffee consumption is associated with lower risk of Parkinson’s disease. It was also found that coffee drinkers had a significantly lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Dr. Arthur Acker has practiced dentistry in Venice for 27 years. He practices with his wife, Dr. Nicole Lehninger, and their associate, Dr. Ryan Holbrook. He recently completed a Barista Online Training program presented by Belissimo Coffee Advisors. The curriculum contained everything from espresso preparation, milk steaming and coffee brewing to latte art and roasting fundamentals. Dr. Acker maintains a general dentistry practice, performing all phases of dental care, with a focus on dental implants. He does all aspects of implant placement and restoration in one location. Dr. Acker has been a professor at the University of Florida College of Dentistry for more than 25 years. The office is located at 200 Capri Isles Blvd, in Venice. For more information on either dental implants or coffee preparation, call 941-484-3885.